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The Rides of All 197 World Leaders

Jim Yu March 26, 2012 All Things Hoon, Featured 74 Comments

Djibouti’s whitewalled Hummer.

When you watch the world news on TV, you’re probably looking to see what kind of car that obscure president/prime minister is riding in.  We all know about Obama’s Cadillac and China’s Hongqi, but what about the other 195 world leaders (193 U.N. member states, plus Palestine, Taiwan, the Vatican, and Kosovo)?

Well, in 2007 and 2008 (and briefly in 2011 thanks to the addition of South Sudan as a new country), I summoned the collective power of about a half-dozen search engines (and an email exchange with the editor of the largest newspaper in the Federated States of Micronesia) and came up with this list.  Compiling this was fun, frustrating, and eye-numbing. 

East Timor’s Prime Minister needs to uparmor his Land Cruiser, stat.

Without further ado, here is the final tally:

Mercedes S-Class (61 countries), Toyota Land Cruiser (23), BMW 7-Series (16), Audi A8 (11), Cadillac (7), Maybach (6), GM Suburban/Yukon/Escalade (6), Mitsubishi Montero/Pajero (4), VW Phaeton (4), Mercedes G-wagen (4), Holden/Chevy/Opel (4), Hummer H2 (3), Toyota Crown (3), Lincoln (3), Jaguar (2), ZIL (2), Volvo (2), VW Touareg (2), Mercedes E-Class (2), Lancia (2).

The following cars each showed up just once on the list: Hyundai, Skoda, Audi A6, Peugeot, Renault, VW van, London taxi, Daimler, Toyota Century, Hongqi, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Ford Fairlane, Aston Martin, SEAT, Ford Expedition, Nissan Patrol, Stutz, Suzuki, Toyota Camry, Toyota Sequoia, Proton, Land Rover, Ford F150, Mitsubishi Galant, Hummer H1, Chrysler Imperial, Mitsubishi L200 pick-up, Mazda truck, Hyundai Tuscon.

The ratio of cars versus trucks/SUVs was 143 to 54.  By nationality, there were 109 German vehicles, 38 Japanese, 27 “Other”, and 23 American.

Peru’s president was doing some spring cleaning and decided to get rid of this Imperial

Here is the complete list.  The methodology is complicated.  Some countries have both a head of state and a head of government.  When possible, I chose the person with more power/notoriety.  Sometimes, a leader had multiple vehicles.  In that situation, I counted whatever vehicle I could verify with a photograph or news story. 

  1. Afghanistan: Toyota Land Cruiser
  2. Albania: Mercedes S-Class
  3. Algeria: Mercedes S-Class
  4. Andorra: Audi A8
  5. Angola: Mercedes G-wagen
  6. Antigua and Barbuda: Mercedes S-Class
  7. Argentina: Audi A6
  8. Armenia: BMW 7-Series
  9. Australia: Golden Statesman
  10. Austria: Audi A8
  11. Azerbaijan: Mercedes S-Class
  12. Bahamas: Cadillac DTS
  13. Bahrain: Maybach
  14. Bangladesh: Mitsubishi Pajero
  15. Barbados: Mitsubishi Pajero
  16. Belarus: Mercedes S-Class
  17. Belgium: Audi A8
  18. Belize: Toyota Camry
  19. Benin: Toyota Land Cruiser
  20. Bhutan: Toyota Land Cruiser
  21. Bolivia: BMW 7-Series
  22. Bosnia-Herzegovina: Audi A8
  23. Botswana: Bentley Arnage
  24. Brazil: Chevy Omega
  25. Brunei: Rolls-Royce
  26. Bulgaria: Mercedes S-Class
  27. Burkina Faso: Cadillac Escalade
  28. Burundi: Mercedes S-Class
  29. Cambodia: Mercedes S-Class
  30. Cameroon: Mercedes S-Class
  31. Canada: Lincoln Town Car
  32. Cape Verde: Mitsubishi Montero Sport
  33. Central African Republic: Toyota Land Cruiser
  34. Chad: Hummer H2
  35. Chile: Peugeot 607
  36. China: Hongqi
  37. Colombia: Toyota Land Cruiser
  38. Comoros: Mitsubishi L200 pick-up
  39. Congo, Democratic Republic of: Mercedes S-Class
  40. Congo, Republic of the: Mercedes S-Class
  41. Costa Rica: Land Rover LR3
  42. Croatia: BMW 7-Series
  43. Cuba: ZIL
  44. Cyprus: Mercedes S-Class
  45. Czech Republic: Skoda
  46. Denmark: Mercedes S-Class
  47. Djibouti: Hummer H1
  48. Dominica: Suzuki
  49. Dominican Republic: Toyota Land Cruiser
  50. East Timor: Toyota Land Cruiser
  51. Ecuador: Nissan Patrol
  52. Egypt: BMW 7-Series
  53. El Salvador: Toyota Sequoia
  54. Equatorial Guinea: Mercedes S-Class
  55. Eritrea: BMW 7-Series
  56. Estonia: Audi A8
  57. Ethiopia: Lincoln Town Car
  58. Federated States of Micronesia: Hyundai Tucson
  59. Fiji: Toyota Land Cruiser
  60. Finland: BMW 7-Series
  61. France: Renault Safrane Biturbo
  62. Gabon: Stutz Royale
  63. Gambia, The: Hummer H2
  64. Georgia: Mercedes S-Class
  65. Germany: VW Phaeton
  66. Ghana: Mercedes S-Class
  67. Guinea: Mercedes S-Class
  68. Guinea-Bissau: Toyota Land Cruiser
  69. Great Britain: Jaguar Super 8
  70. Greece: Mercedes S-Class
  71. Grenada: Mitsubishi Montero
  72. Guatemala: Toyota Land Cruiser
  73. Guyana: Toyota Land Cruiser
  74. Haiti: Chevy Suburban
  75. Honduras: Chevy Suburban
  76. Hungary: Audi A8
  77. Iceland: 1980s Cadillac
  78. India: BMW 7-Series
  79. Indonesia: Mercedes S-Class
  80. Iran: Mercedes S-Class
  81. Iraq: BMW 7-Series
  82. Ireland: Mercedes S-Class
  83. Israel: Volvo
  84. Italy: Lancia Thesis
  85. Ivory Coast: VW Touareg
  86. Jamaica: Volvo S80
  87. Japan: Toyota Century
  88. Jordan: Mercedes S-Class
  89. Kazakhstan: Mercedes S-Class
  90. Kenya: Mercedes S-Class
  91. Kiribati: Toyota Crown (educated guess)
  92. Korea, North: VW Phaeton
  93. Korea, South: Hyundai Equus
  94. Kosovo: VW Touareg
  95. Kuwait: Chevy Suburban
  96. Kyrgyzstan: Mercedes S-Class
  97. Laos: Mercedes S-Class
  98. Latvia: BMW 7-Series
  99. Lebanon: Mercedes S-Class
  100. Lesotho: Mercedes S-Class
  101. Liberia: Mercedes S-Class
  102. Libya: Mercedes S-Class
  103. Liechtenstein: Audi A8
  104. Lithuania: Mercedes S-Class
  105. Luxembourg: Mercedes S-Class
  106. Macedonia: Mercedes S-Class
  107. Madagascar: Mercedes S-Class
  108. Malawi: Toyota Land Cruiser
  109. Malaysia: Proton
  110. Maldives: Mercedes S-Class
  111. Mali: Hummer H2
  112. Malta: Cadillac CTS
  113. Marshall Islands: Cadillac DTS
  114. Mauritania: Mercedes S-Class
  115. Mauritius: Aston Martin DB9
  116. Mexico: Chevy Suburban
  117. Moldova: Mercedes S-Class
  118. Monaco: Daimler
  119. Mongolia: Toyota Land Cruiser
  120. Montenegro: Audi A8
  121. Morocco: Mercedes S-Class
  122. Mozambique: Toyota Land Cruiser
  123. Myanmar: Toyota Land Cruiser
  124. Namibia: Toyota Land Cruiser
  125. Nauru: Mercedes E-Class
  126. Nepal: Jaguar
  127. Netherlands, The: BMW 7-Series
  128. New Zealand: Ford Fairlane
  129. Nicaragua: Mercedes G-wagen
  130. Niger: Toyota Land Cruiser
  131. Nigeria: Mercedes S-Class
  132. Norway: BMW 7-Series
  133. Oman: Maybach
  134. Pakistan: Mercedes S-Class
  135. Palau: Ford F150
  136. Palestine: Mercedes S-Class
  137. Panama: Toyota Land Cruiser
  138. Papua New Guinea: Mercedes E-Class
  139. Paraguay: GMC Yukon
  140. Peru: 1973 Chrysler New Yorker
  141. Philippines: Mercedes S-Class
  142. Poland: BMW 7-Series
  143. Portugal: VW Phaeton
  144. Qatar: Maybach
  145. Romania: Mercedes S-Class
  146. Russia: ZIL
  147. Rwanda: Mercedes G-wagen
  148. St. Kitts and Nevis: Toyota Crown Royal
  149. St. Lucia: BMW 7-Series
  150. St. Vincent & the Grenadines: Toyota Land Cruiser
  151. Samoa: Holden
  152. San Marino: Lancia Thesis
  153. Sao Tome e Principe: BMW 7-Series
  154. Saudi Arabia: Maybach
  155. Senegal: Ford Expedition
  156. Serbia: BMW 7-Series
  157. Seychelles: Toyota Land Cruiser
  158. Sierra Leone: Mercedes S-Class
  159. Singapore: Mercedes S-Class
  160. Slovakia: SEAT race car
  161. Slovenia: Audi A8
  162. Solomon Islands: Toyota Land Cruiser
  163. Somalia: Mercedes S-Class
  164. South Africa: Mercedes S-Class
  165. South Sudan: Toyota Land Cruiser
  166. Spain: Audi A8
  167. Sri Lanka: BMW 7-Series
  168. Sudan: Mercedes S-Class
  169. Suriname: Lincoln Continental
  170. Swaziland: Maybach
  171. Sweden: Mercedes S-Class
  172. Switzerland: Audi A8
  173. Syria: Toyota Land Cruiser
  174. Taiwan: Cadillac
  175. Tajikistan: Mercedes G-wagen
  176. Tanzania: Mercedes S-Class
  177. Thailand: VW T5 Eurovan
  178. Togo: Mercedes S-Class
  179. Tonga: London taxi
  180. Trinidad & Tobago
  181. Tunisia: Mercedes S-Class
  182. Turkey: Mercedes S-Class
  183. Turkmenistan: Mercedes S-Class
  184. Tuvalu: Mazda truck
  185. Uganda: Mercedes S-Class
  186. Ukraine: Mercedes S-Class
  187. United Arab Emirates: Maybach
  188. U.S.A.: Cadillac
  189. Uruguay: Chevy/Holden/Opel Vectra
  190. Uzbekistan: Mercedes S-Class
  191. Vanuatu: Mitsubishi Galant
  192. Vatican, The: VW Phaeton
  193. Venezuela: Cadillac Fleetwood
  194. Vietnam: Toyota Crown
  195. Yemen: Mercedes S-Class
  196. Zambia: Mercedes S-Class
  197. Zimbabwe: Mercedes S-Class Pullman

Here is China’s Hu Jintao reviewing the troops in his very snazzy Hongqi:

Source of Djibouti’s Hummer image: Saharan Vibe

Source of East Timor’s Land Cruiser image: ABC

Source of Peru’s Chrysler Imperial image: Imperial Club

  • PotbellyJoe

    "What up peep and tweeps? You thought Football was my only job?"

    <img src="http://www.celebritycars.tv/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/chad-johnson-hummer.jpg"&gt;

  • A fitting ride for a president named Omar Bongo…

    <img src="http://www.madle.org/bsb16.JPG"&gt;

    • manex

      It "Holden Statesman" not "Golden Statesman" substitute an H for the G

      • manex

        for Australia that is!!!

  • Canada: I approve!
    Mexico: Really?
    Palau: Huh.

    • Deartháir

      Never mind that. High-five to Slovakia!

      • Whoa, I glossed over that one. Awesome!

      • I'll try to find a picture of Slovakia's leader in a firesuit standing next to a couple of grid professionals.

      • PotbellyJoe

        Everything I found says they use an armored Mercedes Pullman. Which is equally cool, really.

        • Deartháir

          Combine them; a racing armoured Mercedes Pullman!

      • http://www.prezident.sk/?president-in-casual-clot

        Scroll down for some cool pictures of Slovakia's president in casual clothes and cars.

  • facelvega

    Yes! Clearly the best car on the list. Second place: Willy Telavi's Mazda Truck for circling around Funafuti.

    • OA5599

      It's the fourth smallest country by population, but probably has nowhere near the wealth of Monaco or Vatican City. With a GDP of less than $4K per year, I'm guessing Willy needs that truck to deliver pizzas to help make ends meet.

      <img src="http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_RuBCDW25bIU/TOw0_oddPPI/AAAAAAAAAw0/cBchEwhBBnM/s1600/8512873_gal.jpg&quot; width=500>

      • GTXEliminator

        The main source of income in the country is royalties from the use of .tv domains.

      • jesus I love that movie way too much…

      • facelvega

        There was an article about it in Harper's a few months ago. It mentions this: "Cars break down quickly in the salty air, and since Tuvalu has no way to export its trash, Funafuti has become littered with rusting chassis. Some resourceful homeowners stack automobile skeletons outside their doors as seawalls for protection against the next cyclone." There is also a good story about when the (only) driver takes him from the (one-room) airport to the (only) hotel, which is 200 feet away. It was a pickup, maybe the same one the new prime minister drives.

        • I can't believe someone else is also interested in Tuvalu! I spotted a picture of the PM in a Mazda truck when he was visiting a desolate island. It was probably one of the few vehicles available there.

          • facelvega

            Why they have so many vehicles on islands you could walk across in an hour or less boggles the mind, and is probably symptomatic of the weird cultural situation they find themselves in out there, waiting for the sea to rise. But yes, a fascinating place, almost hard to believe that it exists as somebody's weirdly normal everyday life. Ten thousand somebodies, actually.

      • There are less than 5 miles of roads in the whole country. The airport runway accounts for 1/8 of all the roads in the country!

  • OA5599

    Whitewalls with camo paint–you're doing it wrong.

    • In Djibouti, whitewalls are a form of camo. I saw it on the internet.

      • I really surprised that H1 is rocking a set of chrome 24s too.

      • dukeisduke

        Just for fun, the driver should slam on the brakes.

  • Golden Statesman, eh?

    • [sic]

    • Devin

      It has a sweet paint job.

  • TurboBrick

    St. Kitts and Nevis: Toyota Crown Royal

    So that's why Crown Royal pulled out of NASCAR. They've decided to start sponsoring dignitaries from Caribbean islands instead.

    <img src="http://www.inthegroovegraphicdesign.com/images/2009_crown_image.jpg&quot; WIDTH="500">

    • Number_Six

      During the NASCAR weekend in Vegas two weeks ago I saw a guy who had sewn a muumuu out of Crown Royal bags. I wonder how upset he was when he learned Crown Royal quit sponsoring the car.

      • TurboBrick

        They might be back by the time he sobers up.

  • david42

    magnificent work!!!!

  • Lotte

    The president of Iceland has a 1980's Cadillac and he's inviting all of us over for pancakes at his house! He's like a sweet old grandpa living out in the countryside. Adorable!

  • betterwrappedinbacon

    Nice list! I don't think I've ever seen anyone try to put something like this together before. It is fascinating!

    Poor Belize.

    • Devin

      I think Vanuatu's Mitsubishi Galant might be a smidge more depressing.

  • Number_Six

    Mauritius wins the prize for most egregious tax-payer-purchased presidential plaything. I wonder if he sourced tiny guards to ride in the back seat of his DB-9.

    • Would you believe the PM is a member of the Labour Party?

  • HSA

    Hey, my daily driver is on the list! I never realized I'm a world leader. Think I have to take a different route to work tomorrow.

    • Shall we start calling you Generalissimo HSA?

  • Feds_II

    In the Cretien years Canada used armored Caddys. If Steve-o switched, I wonder why he didn't go with the hopped up F350.

    I can tell for sure that the leader of Comoros is democratically elected, as he is in a Mitsu pickup and not a Hilux.

    Finally, New Zealand with the Ford Fairlane for the win.

    <img src="http://raginsautosales.com/Uploads/ClassicM1.jpg&quot; width=500>

    • Devin

      Didn't we have armored Caprices at that time? I remember Cretien made a big deal about driving a Chevrolet.

      • Feds_II

        Ahh, I've wikipedia'd the problem: The Queen and the GG are in the Fords, the PM uses the Caddys. What a truly Canadian solution:

        To wit:

        The Canadian monarch and Governor General of Canada are driven in a Lincoln Town Car or a Lincoln MKS bearing the flag of either office on the right hand fender.

        The Prime Minister of Canada is driven in a motorcade of 5 cars or more. The motorcade is adjusted for certain public events, as seen fit by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The prime minister usually rides in an armoured long-wheelbase Cadillac DTS or Chevrolet Suburban but has also been seen arriving at various events in a Toyota Sienna minivan when travelling with members of his family.

        • Devin

          I just remember that when Chretien got in he was proudly going on about being a "man of the people" so his state car was a Chevrolet, not a Cadillac, and he made a big deal out of this. I was pretty sure that it was a Caprice.

          It's surprising how few of the cars were actually made in Canada. Sure all of the manufacturers mentioned have a base here, but you'd think they'd go with a Lexus RX over the Sienna and have a big thing about "supporting Canadian workers," for example.

        • highmileage_v1

          The RCMP A Division VVIP fleet also had a few Buicks if I remember right (Roadmasters). That was a few years ago so they may have been retired by now.

    • New Zealand apparently has to settle for the Fairlane, not the upscale Fairlane 500 shown in that photo.

      • Feds_II

        The times they are a' austere.

      • OA5599

        If I was a Fairlane-driving political leader, mine would be a Thunderbolt. The Fairlane 500 trim level adds too much additional weight.

        <img src="http://www.woodyg.com/fairlane/tbolt3.jpg&quot; width=500>

      • New Zealand's Green Party actually proposed that the PM ride in a Toyota Echo instead!

    • Number_Six
      • pj134

        Thumbs up and "Ewwww".

        • Number_Six

          I'm sure it's a very competent car, given the lengthy history of large RWD cars produced by the antipodeans. It just happens to resemble an obese bald man.

          • dr zero

            Well it was just a long wheelbase Falcon, but no longer in production. You can't even get a Falcon wagon anymore, not to mention the talk of the Taurus replacing the whole lot in a couple of years' time.

      • Feds_II

        Not in my mind Number Six, not in my mind.

  • Oskar

    The beloved leader of Slovenian people actually rides around in that good old slab of Czech steel, the Skoda Superb. Before that, it seems to have been a Mercedes. Not sure where you got your info from… 🙂

    • I'm looking at my notes and it looks like I was referring to the president's ride instead of the PM's ride. 🙂

  • buzzboy7

    Tonga: Interesting…and I presume some of the only vehicles in the country
    NZ: That is a gross thing, why did I have to look it up
    Palau: Wha?
    Peru: Classy?

    Also, this drives up my interest in an S-Class. Maybe with one I can become a world leader.

  • Nobis

    I'm saddened for there is no presidential love for Citroens any more 🙁

  • sudden1

    So, studying this list… If, just for fun, you assume that Cadillacs are "assembled in the United States from foreign and domestically sourced parts" so they aren't all that "Made in the U.S.A.", is our guy riding the Millenium Wave? Maybe those Alabamans could whip him up a nice G-Wagon or S-Class.No Cadillac hate here- CTS-Vs are great,but our guy has to be top dog and when he gives those lesser pups a ride, they will be comparing their wheels…You know, cars and men, the international language of "I'm better than you."

    • Given all the goodies in our Cadillac and its sheer mass, there's no question ours is the best.

  • Remdog

    I saw Volvo (2) and immediately thought Sweden and some other lucky country, but an S-Class? Come on Sweden! Maybe I understand why you don't drive a Saab, but step up your game. If Israel and Jamaica do, you should too.
    And what kind of President drives a SEAT race car? does he just outrun the bullets instead of armoring the car?

    • Sweden figured since neither Volvo nor Saab were Swedish anymore, they didn't have to have one as an official car.

      Israel couldn't use a German car for obvious reasons. Jamaica's PM was quite thrifty. Her S80 was really old and people were actually encouraging her to get a new car.

      As for Slovakia, go here. This is the President's official website. Scroll down for many pictures of him in cars! http://www.prezident.sk/?president-in-casual-clot

  • Until about a year ago there was this:


  • Correction the Brazilian presidential car for ceremonies is a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith and for official uses there is the "presedential" Fusion Hybrid.
    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/1304RS0012.jpg/640px-1304RS0012.jpg&quot; width="550">

    <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/Brazilian_Presidential_Motorcade.jpg"&gt;

  • craigsu

    No vehicle for Trinidad & Tobago?

  • Eywolf

    The President of Iceland has 4 cars to his disposal;
    For regular use:
    Lexus 600h : <img src="http://img.visir.is/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=XZ&Date=20070707&Category=FRETTIR01&ArtNo=107070148&Ref=AR&NoBorder&MaxW=800&MaxH=700&quot; width="600">

    Toyota Land Cruiser (Prado as it is known elswhere in the world, and is apparently not photographed often): <img src="http://www.dv.is/media/news/story/imagestrip/DV1109289426-010_jpg_900x1300_sharpen_q95.jpg?entry=68530&slide=12523&quot; width="600">

    For use on special occasions and on our independence day (17th of June):
    1942 Packard: <img src="http://www.bgs.is/bgs/upload/images/sitelinks/_mg_0127.jpg&quot; width="600">
    And for use if an extra car is needed:
    1980's Cadillac (Bought new for former president Vigdis Finnbogadottir): <img src="http://img196.imageshack.us/img196/5886/dsc08256i.jpg&quot; width="600">

    Cheer's from Iceland!

    • Eywolf

      Finally found a better picture of the Land Cruiser 120: <img src="http://farm1.staticflickr.com/7/10278449_6f89ad3aaf.jpg&quot; width="500" height="375" alt="Eirikur Elis og forsetabíllinn">

    • Thanks! I hope to drive around your Ring Road one day.

      • RichardKopf

        It should be noted that the Cadillac is a `90-`92 Brougham.

    • pj134

      That Brougham is so sexy.

  • Robbie

    Fantastic list, well done although I have one correction for you.Number 9, Australia, should be HOLDEN Statesman, not Golden. I believe Julia Gillard's Statesman is actually white

  • Robbie

    The Australian P.Ms car at the .50 mark in this video
    [youtube 4_6J7Ayzu0A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_6J7Ayzu0A youtube]

  • bimmerfan

    Please change the Australian ride from Golden Statesman to HOLDEN Statesman. It is an embarrassing typo